Christie's Auction Pumped by Yves, Keeps Art Market Recovery Going
With a final tally of more than $61 million in line with the high end of the presale estimate, it would appear that Christie's made some smart calls. Forty-six of the lots achieved sale, with one clearing £5 million, nine surpassing £1 million and 16 beating $1 million. Compared to last year's sale, when only 29 lots were offered, the total take surged 3.7X. I tend to be pretty skeptical, but even that sort of result is enough to make me admit that the art market's recovering.
Buyers in Europe and Britain were most active, picking up 41 percent and 33 percent of the sales, respectively. Collectors in the United States followed with 22 percent and Asia at 4 percent.
"It's the first Klein in my collection," Graff announced very shortly after winning. He continued, "I've wanted to buy one for a long time and I remember the one that came up ten years ago. I consider it a masterpiece, and it could be Klein's last painting." Klein kicked in 1962.
Another Klein, "Relief Sponge or (RE 47 II)"," went to a German-speaking couple for more than $9 million. They are believed to be based in Switzerland and bidding for a private Swiss client – the same one that bought the Klein, Fontana and Warhold pieces at Sotheby's earlier this week.
So, what's better than buying a Klein? Well, I guess pairing it with a piece by Andy Warhol is. Graff picked up Warhol's "Dollar Sign" paintings for a tad over $3.5 million in a sale that beat the high-end of the estimated range by around 25 percent. He also snatched up Michael Day Jackson's "Bucky" from 2007. The piece had an upper estimate of £40,000, but that didn't stop Graff from paying more than 13 times that amount. The final number, $937,950, obliterated the previous top number for a Jackson, a mere $18,750 at a Christie's sale in New York back in September.
There's a Phillips de Pury sale tonight, but I wouldn't expect it to change the world. Sotheby's and Christie's have defined the trend. Sure, the art market remains perpetual slave to broader economic conditions, but absent another meltdown, we're watching the world of canvas and bronze come back.